Students marked August 18, 2017 with a “Black Friday” protest to denounce President Rodrigo Duterte’s “fascistic war on drugs” and the use of “body counts as his metric of progress.” Student and youth groups held simultaneous protest actions and candle-lighting activities at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and University of Santo Tomas.
The students and youth lambasted the Duterte administration’s wanton disregard for human rights, the endangering of the students through mandatory drug-testing in schools, and the spate of drug-related killings that made this week a “bloody hell” for the Filipino people, including the Filipino youth.
Touted by people as Bloody Wednesday, the Bulacan police’s August 15-16, 2017 tokhang, a 24-hour and 66-anti-drug police operation, resulted in the killings of 32 drug suspects.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), during a press briefing, claimed that there were killings only because the drug suspects resisted (“nanlaban”) their arrests. Duterte lauded the Bulacan PNP’s operations and said that killing 32 “drug addicts” daily will help solve the country’s drug problem.
“Duterte just praised a 32-death toll and urged 32 more daily, in effect leading to the 25 kills in Manila and 7 in Cavite immediately the next day. If it wasn’t enough, he also ordered shooting of human rights advocates and other critics,” underscored Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago.
TOKHANG IN SCHOOLS
In line with his anti-drug campaign, the Duterte administration also proposed the mandatory drug testing for senior high school and college students.
Kabataan Parylist, alarmed at Duterte’s mandatory drug testing in schools, called the proposal as “tokhang in schools.” Elago urged the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Educatio to stop the mandatory drug testing in schools.
“With this and many other unfortunate, tragic incidents, we have no reason to believe that the mandatory drug testing in senior high school and college will not lead to another extra-judicial killing. DepEd and CHED must stop this or else blood would be on their hands,” Elago stressed.
Furthermore, Eule Rico Bonganay, Secretary General of SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns, expressed deep concern over DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones’ Memorandum Order No. 40, which dictates a random drug testing among high school students. Bonganay said that Briones’ memo makes high school students “open targets for police brutality and vigilante killings.”
PARENTS’ WORST NIGHTMARE
Bonganay also said that “Duterte’s war on drugs has now become every parent’s worst nightmare.”
In fact, this week was also punctuated with the killing of Kian Loyd D. Delos Santos, a Grade 11 student, by Caloocan City police elements via “Oplan Galugad.”
“A 5-year-old girl is the youngest reported victim of the war on drugs in the country last year. Now a grade 11 student was intentionally killed during a legitimate police operation. Poor families and their children who cannot defend themselves are the most vulnerable in this reign of state terror,” Bonganay exclaimed.
Meanwhile, National Youth Commission Chairperson Cariza “Aiza” Yamson Seguerra urged the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to form an independent body to investigate all cases of death and involvement of youth in drug-related cases.
“We want to curb the drug menace; however, we are alarmed by the deaths and injury of minors in the process,” said Seguerra.
“We demand justice for the victims, and call for an end to the war on drugs, and these wars that are going nowhere. The intensifying fascism of the regime will not silence the Filipino people in their call for a just and humane society,” Elago closed.